Chinese GP: McLaren Mercedes qualifying report

LEWIS HAMILTON MP4-24-04 P3 programme 17 laps 1m36.330s (3rd) Continuing the set-up direction established during Friday practice, Lewis quickly got down to business in the morning, conducting a five-lap run on primes (1m37.246s best). He carried...

LEWIS HAMILTON
MP4-24-04
P3 programme
17 laps 1m36.330s (3rd)

Continuing the set-up direction established during Friday practice, Lewis quickly got down to business in the morning, conducting a five-lap run on primes (1m37.246s best). He carried out two further two-lap runs, setting best times of 1m37.206s and 1m36.330s on primes and options respectively. He finished the session third fastest.

Qualifying
Q1 1m35.776s (4th)
Q2 1m35.740s (6th)
Q3 1m38.595 (9th overall)

Into Q1, Lewis bolted on a set of options and blasted out two fast laps -- a 1m36.381s and a fourth-fastest 1m35.776s, declaring himself extremely satisfied: "They were pretty hardcore laps!" he said. "They were almost beyond the limit." For the second session, Lewis once again underlined MP4-24's pace by setting sixth-fastest time (1m35.740s). Into Q3 for the first time this year, Lewis ended the day ninth fastest (1m38.595s) but pleased with the progress achieved by the team this weekend. "Step by step, we are moving forward," he said. "And thanks to all the guys back at the factory for doing such a fantastic job and for churning away on all the new parts -- every little bit helps us catch the leaders. There's still a long way to go but this definitely feels like the start of the road to recovery."

HEIKKI KOVALAINEN
MP4-24-03
P3 programme
13 laps 1m36.547s (7th)

While Lewis opted to stick with the newer front wing, Heikki preferred to use the FW2 and declared himself satisfied with the car's balance and grip. He ran a four-lap (1m37.172s) and three-lap session (1m36.547s). An overnight change to the prevailing wind direction also prompted further work to re-establish new braking areas for both drivers.

Qualifying
Q1 1m36.646s (14th)
Q2 1m36.032s (12th overall)

Satisfied with his balance in the morning session, Heikki started qualifying in a confident mood, setting a 1m36.646s lap early in the session -- it was enough to place him 14th and meant he was able to abort a later lap and move into Q2. Into the second session, he once again attacked, setting a 1m36.032s despite locking his left-front on the entry to Turn 11. It was enough to place him 12th after a later attempt was again abandoned following a delay in the middle sector. "We've really improved our car this weekend," said Heikki. "It was unfortunate we couldn't go any faster in Q2 but I am glad for the team that Lewis made it into Q3. While 12th position doesn't truly reflect my pace, it's clear that we're heading in the right direction. With the right strategy and some better luck in the opening laps, I'll be aiming for my first points of the year tomorrow.

MARTIN WHITMARSH

"Lewis's ninth place marks the first time this season that we have made it into Q3 and also demonstrates the effort we are putting in back at the McLaren Technology Centre to improve MP4-24. Admittedly, there is still a long way to go -- and we will not be happy until we are back at the front -- but this is an encouraging and significant step for the whole team. Lewis's laps, particularly in Q1 and Q2 were absolutely tremendous and worthy of a great champion. While Heikki was unable to improve on 12th, he and his engineers did a fantastic job together to set the car up. As a result, we go into tomorrow's race seriously optimistic of getting both cars into the points."

NORBERT HAUG

"A great job by Lewis and the team -- since the beginning of the season we have taken steps forward. I believe we have a first-class strategy. There will be cars ahead of us which will make early pitstops, beginning approximately with lap 10, but we want to cover two and a half times as much until our first stop. In Q1, Lewis was fourth, two and half tenths behind first place, in Q2 he was sixth, six tenths behind the best time -- at least, we are making progress compared to Melbourne and Sepang. Two BMWs and one Ferrari will start behind us -- we have the best-placed car with KERS in the field; we are heading in the right direction, but anyway there is still a lot of work to do. Unfortunately, Heikki missed Q3 by just 0.063sec -- that must be annoying for him and the team which truly deserved two cars in the top 10 as a reward for their hard work. However, 12th is not too far behind 10th."

-credit: mclaren

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Teams Ferrari , Mercedes , McLaren